Monday, September 11, 2006

Looking Bad For U.S. In Anbar

A realistic voice checks in from Iraq:

The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.

The officials described Col. Pete Devlin's classified assessment of the dire state of Anbar as the first time that a senior U.S. military officer has filed so negative a report from Iraq.

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."

The "very pessimistic" statement, as one Marine officer called it, was dated Aug. 16 and sent to Washington shortly after that, and has been discussed across the Pentagon and elsewhere in national security circles. "I don't know if it is a shock wave, but it's made people uncomfortable," said a Defense Department official who has read the report. Like others interviewed about the report, he spoke on the condition that he not be identified by name because of the document's sensitivity.

Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.

Devlin offers a series of reasons for the situation, including a lack of U.S. and Iraqi troops, a problem that has dogged commanders since the fall of Baghdad more than three years ago, said people who have read it. These people said he reported that not only are military operations facing a stalemate, unable to extend and sustain security beyond the perimeters of their bases, but also local governments in the province have collapsed and the weak central government has almost no presence.

Those conclusions are striking because, even after four years of fighting an unexpectedly difficult war in Iraq, the U.S. military has tended to maintain an optimistic view: that its mission is difficult, but that progress is being made. Although CIA station chiefs in Baghdad have filed negative classified reports over the past several years, military intelligence officials have consistently been more positive, both in public statements and in internal reports. ...

"In the analytical world, there is a real pall of gloom descending," said Jeffrey White, a former analyst of Middle Eastern militaries for the Defense Intelligence Agency, who also had been told about the pessimistic Marine report. ...

Anbar is a key province; it encompasses Ramadi and Fallujah, which with Baghdad pose the greatest challenge U.S. forces have faced in Iraq. It accounts for 30 percent of Iraq's land mass, encompassing the vast area from the capital to the borders of Syria and Jordan, including much of the area that has come to be known as the Sunni Triangle. ...

Devlin's report is a work of intelligence analysis, not of policy prescription, so it does not try to suggest what, if anything, can be done to fix the situation. It is not clear what the implications would be for U.S. forces if Devlin's view is embraced by top commanders elsewhere in Iraq. U.S. officials are wary of simply abandoning the Sunni parts of Iraq, for fear that they could become havens for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

One possible solution would be to try to turn over the province to Iraqi forces, but that could increase the risk of a full-blown civil war. Shiite-dominated forces might begin slaughtering Sunnis, while Sunni-dominated units might simply begin acting independently of the central government.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it because Bush is so reckless with U.S. soldiers' lives and U.S.citizens' money that he won't pull out of Iraq; or is it because he's just doing what his corporate masters tell him to do -- (and they need U.S. style gov't security in order to plunder the oil wealth)?

-- I remember what I was doing 5 years ago today -- walking on my treadmill and watching Oprah or something and irritated as hell when they interrupted the programming... when I saw the first plane crash into the tower I thought: How could the pilot be so stupid? or did his steering wheel get jammed or something? When I saw the second tower fall I somehow knew that our world had been profoundly changed... Little did I know how much..


Dena

9/11/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Bush simply refuses to admit any mistakes. It is a purely psychological thing with him. He has had that problem his whole life, according to people who have known him.

That weakness does play into the devious plans of his bosses, though.

9/11/2006 12:55 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

WTF? I take a power snooze when all is dandy and when I wake up everything is fubar. How did that happen?

9/11/2006 6:32 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

They must not be telling the Marines about all the good news over there.

I have a feeling that Col. Devlin will have a devil of a time at his next promotion boards.

9/11/2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

The detail is in the devlin.

9/11/2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

Maybe Daniel Webster will defend the Col. in any grievance hearing.

9/12/2006 7:19 AM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

(clever)

9/12/2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

Yours was clever.

Mine was pretentious literary wankery.

9/12/2006 2:22 PM  

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